30 May 2012
I am under the impression that a fair chunk of people think it is quite peculiar,suspicious and probably irreverent that I ride a bicycle to work.
This is especially true of people driving cars, so I assume it is a middle class and above thing. At a stop sign the other bicyclists pretty much ignore me, the pedestrians stare, and the people in cars I swear are talking about me.
I experience it everyday but today was poignant.
We rent office space at the Arusha International Conference Center (AICC). Picture at top. Whoowee. This week AICC has a huge and "important" meeting. The annual meeting of the AfDB. If you know officialdom and you know Africa this means protocols, security, and disturbances to the proletariat.
I have been sick so missed the fun of the first day, monday, trying to get into our complex with and additional 5000 delegates and support staff. Today I can go to work and there were cones across the entrance but the normal AICC guard must know me, so i ride in between the cones.
BUT, behind him stands a guy in a suit, secret service looking type. There are people walking in on both sides and a car begging to get in. I get stopped by the suit.
He is stopping a bike, are you kidding? This is a meeting for the money of Africa. They erected not less than a hectare of extra tents outside (refer to picture at top), they spent something like 150million dollars. So I guess I am suspicious.
I had to produce my ID for the suit for the first time at AICC . EVER. Sometimes a new security guy for UN might ask where I am going but always the AICC security informs them I am "OK". Suit reads it and as he hands back he says "Managing Director!"
He asks the AICC guard "okay? Can he go in?".
He says " oh he is well known"
I then kid the suit "Kumbe wewe mswahili" ( translated goodness sakes your a swahili speaker)
We laugh and I shyly ride past the suits and SUVs and park my bike near the trash bin. behind the stalls and stalls of displays.